STRAIT, DOUGLAS FRANK
Name: Douglas Frank Strait Rank/Branch: E4/US Army Unit: Troop C, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division Date of Birth: 29 January 1950 Home City of Record: Moses Lake WA Date of Loss: 18 October 1970 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 111336N 1073445E (YT178415) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: OH6A Refno: 1668
Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 1998.
Other Personnel in Incident: Rae Arvid Bailey; William J. Cahill (remains returned)
SYNOPSIS: On October 18, 1970, WO1 William J. Cahill, pilot; SP4 Douglas Strait, observer; and SP4 Ray A. Bailey, gunner, were the crew of an OH6A helicopter (tail #67-17193). The aircraft was part of a flight of 2 helicopters on a reconnaissance mission in Binh Tuy Province, South Vietnam, about 30 miles northeast of the city of Xuan Loc. While attempting to mark an enemy target, the aircraft was hit by small arms ground fire and crashed into an area of 100-foot trees and heavy jungle.
Due to the dense vegetation and the onset of darkness, the aircraft was not seen on the ground, but the post-crash fire was. Shortly after impact, the aircraft exploded violently, clearing 35 meters of undergrowth and creating a 4 foot wide by 3 foot deep crater. Attempts to contact the downed crew members by radio were unsuccessful.
On October 19, a search and recovery element entered the crash site area and located the body of SP4 Dailey about 100 meters west of the crash site. Cahill's body was found east of the crash site. One M16 rifle, one M45 caliber pistol, one M79 grenade launcher and 3 flight helmets were located in the immediate crash site area. One helmet had been destroyed by fire, and one by the explosion. The third helmet was in good condition, indicating that either it or its wearer was thrown clear of the aircraft. The weapons were either in poor condition or completely destroyed. The aircraft was scattered over an area of about 50 meters.
During the search, no sign of SP4 Strait was found. On October 27, a U.S. element discovered an aviator's boot print intermingled with those of an enemy force about 800-900 meters north of the crash site. Whether the footprints were made by Strait or an enemy wearing an aviator's boot is unknown.
Because no remains were found for Strait, and one helmet was found in good condition, and U.S. aviator boot prints were found near the crash site, the possibility exists that Strait survived the crash to be captured.
Nearly 2500 Americans remain missing, prisoner or otherwise unaccounted for from the Vietnam war. Like strait, many are suspected to have survived. Others clearly died. Still others were photographed in captivity. A few wrote home from prison camps, never to be seen again.
As thousands upon thousands of reports mount that Americans are still held captive and are alive in Southeast Asia, president after president continues the politically safe policy of ignoring them, perpetuating the abandonment of American fighting men.